Global markets grind higher despite concerns over China

The Associated Press

A man uses a mobile phone in front of a securities firm's electronic stock board in Tokyo, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Asian stock markets mostly fell Monday after a slower increase in Chinese property prices added to jitters about the strength of the world's No. 2 economy. Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average was down 0.19 percent at 14,837.68. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

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By PAN PYLAS, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — A stronger than anticipated start to the week on Wall Street helped shore up markets in Europe on Monday despite earlier concerns over the Chinese property market.

With the Standard & Poor's 500 index pushing into record territory following a round of corporate deal making, Europe's main indexes recouped earlier losses to close markedly higher.

"For investors that means a swift return to confidence," said Andrew Wilkinson, chief market analyst at Interactive Brokers.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares ended up 0.4 percent at 6,865.86 while Germany's DAX rose 0.5 percent to 9,708.94. The CAC-40 finished 0.9 percent higher at 4,419.13.

For much of the day, Europe's main markets had been trading in the red following the earlier soft tone in Asia. But that changed when U.S. stock markets surged at the open.

By the time, Europe's markets had closed, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 1.2 percent at 16,296 while the S&P 500 index rose 1.1 percent to 1,857.

The main impetus behind the Wall Street advance was a raft of deals, including RF Micro Devices' agreement to buy TriQuint Semiconductor for about $1.6 billion and Men's Wearhouse's improved cash offer for Jos. A. Bank Clothiers. And eBay spiked after activist shareholder Carl Icahn disclosed a 2 percent stake in the company.

Earlier in the day, the mood was fairly downbeat after figures showed that average new home prices in China's 70 major cities rose 9.6 percent in the year to January, down on the 9.9 percent rise recorded in December. The first slowdown since November 2012 has added to fears that the banks are beginning to tighten their lending and that could mean Chinese growth falters.

China's main stock index finished 1.7 percent lower at 2,077.23. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.8 percent to 22,388.56 while Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average fell 0.2 percent to 14,837.68.

The tone in the currency markets was flat, with the euro steady at $1.3735 and the dollar trading in narrow ranges around the 102.50 yen mark.

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